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GSS kicks off guest speaker series

At the General Student Senate (GSS) meeting on Sept. 12, multiple clubs were granted preliminary recognition. Guest speakers explained where to submit club funding requests, find free legal advice, how to seek mental health help on campus and more. 

The following senators were sworn in: Meredyth Waters, Haden Buzzel, Jonathan ‘Nate’ Feng, Maxwell McDonough and Cynthia Shelmerdine. 

There were three guest speakers. The first was Jeffrey Dyre, who took time to explain his role as executive administrative assistant for UMSG. He has been a member of the University of Maine community since the 1980’s and held this current position for nearly eight years. 

Pamela Alden (née Rideout) spoke of her services as an employee at the Financial Affairs Office and her collaboration with Paige Allen, vice president for financial affairs. They are the ones to reach out to for funding requests or guidance in budgeting. Alden was presented with a bouquet from GSS as a token of appreciation as well as to congratulate her marriage. 

Sean O’Mara was the final guest speaker. He is the attorney for GSS and was hired in 2012. O’Mara provides guidance in terms of legal advice and is willing to look over any documentation. His efforts go beyond student government as he also represents students in court and offers information to those interested in studying law. 

“I usually take a couple dozen, sometimes three dozen cases to court each year. Everything from divorce to parental rights to PFAs to landlord tenant issues… I’ve kept students out of jail, from having criminal records, gotten students’ kids back and kept them from getting evicted,” said O’Mara.

Next on the agenda was club maintenance. A representative from Hidden Opponent spoke of what the organization needs from their student leaders. Hidden Opponent focuses on the mental health of college athletes. They work to provide resources for those students by raising eating disorder awareness and drawing attention to suicide prevention. There are currently 60 members at UMaine but a total of 500 athletes on campus. They requested preliminary recognition and funds for meeting and event supplies.

Christopher Brahan from the Bikepacking Collective also spoke. The club was created as a way to merge biking and camping and seeks to further educate students on bike safety as well as maintenance. With nearly 100 members, they are the first collegiate bikepacking club in the United States. Brahan requested preliminary recognition of this club and also funds for gear and bike parts so that it can remain free for members. 

Contra Dancing, otherwise known as Appalachian folk music dancing, is another club on campus. The Vice President of the Contra Dancing Club asked for recognition as well. They have put on two traditional off-campus dances thus far and had 70 people in attendance. They require funding to pay the live band for their time. 

Finally was Math Club, which seeks recognition from the senate. Their primary objective is to increase quantitative learning through events outside of the classroom setting. Examples of their activities are professor talks, social events, and competitions. No prerequisites are required to join the 60 current members of this club. 

Each of the four clubs were granted preliminary approval. Following that, Student Body President Michael Delorge gave his update. Firstly, Dean Dana will be putting on a presentation about renter’s rights on Sept. 27. Also, the clerk position remains open. Some of Delorge’s goals for this year include the Alumni Project, student mental health visibility and maintaining the longevity of UMSG. 

Vice President Keegan Tripp announced that the senate has officially filled the seats for students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His goals are to improve internal relations by checking in on every member, to enhance campus connection and update the UMSG Handbook by creating a template that can be updated annually. 

“Next, I am working with Director Carrol and Director Mills to revamp all of our social media and website. We should be posting a lot more on our instagram. I want to start an initiative where we will also be posting things that are passed in the senate, so we can better inform the students of what we are putting our efforts toward,” said Tripp.

Finally, a representative from the Board of Trustees mentioned that enrollment is up this year and that the activities fair had an attendance of 7,000 people. In other news, the position for an undergraduate trustee on the board will be chosen by November. That student will be presented to the board in January.

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